river flow wrote:
Thanks again to Bennyboy!! A true hero for those of us who've found beauty and meaning in Dylan's music and go to websites like this.
I don't have anything new to add about the vinyl rip -- y'all have already made a lot of great observations I agree with. I was really surprised by the sound, though, I definitely didn't expect anything this marked! Pretty substantial change, intuitively felt more like a remix than a remaster. The space really is a revelation, it's kinda surreal to hear after so many years of having the CD mix. The music sounds much more "like it was recorded yesterday". The voice sounds more real -- it provides me a glimmer of continuity with the '75 tour which has always been a completely different tour for me sonically (and for which the official release [Bootleg Series Vol. 5] nailed as far as vocal sound quality). Agree that it feels like a layer of crap has been removed. I also like the vinyl noise -- whenever I'm listening to something with crackles (be it the BOTT test pressing or a Yazoo release), I know I'm doing it because whatever I'm listening to is damn good. By all rational** measures, Bennyboy's remastered vinyl rip is a huge upgrade.
**But there's the rub. Our brains are only partly rational, and if there's one thing I've learned in my years as a wannabe audiophile, it's that there are no absolutes. Mono vs stereo, vinyl vs digital, original master tape vs remaster/remix, authentic in-the-studio sound vs tinkered-with master mix, natural vs loud/compressed, warm vs harsh -- there are exceptions to every preference for me, depending on the particular album. Highway 61 is an example -- my favorite album out of over a thousand, but over the years my preferences have shifted back and forth from the DCC to the 2003 redbook to the mono. Would you wanna hear that harsh harmonica live in the studio while Bob was recording JWH, or would you prefer listening to the mono mix? I prefer the latter. For BIABH, the 2003 stereo remix presents the vocals and instruments with more detail and accuracy than anywhere else, but I prefer the mono mix that Dylan and Tom Wilson crafted because Subterranean Homesick Blues should sound that powerful. A few years back, Nirvana's Live At Reading was officially released -- the audio CD was crap. It's compressed and there's no space between the vocals and the instruments. Sounds like a bad bootleg cassette. The audio on the DVD version of the show sounds a lot clearer. But as time proceeded, my brain/ear started telling me it didn't like the DVD's audio. It felt too clean, too precise, too (gasp) sterile. Not enough noise. My brain was craving that loud compressed audio CD mix, it worked better for this particular show (usually my brain does the opposite with "loud" masters). I haven't listened to the DVD's mix in ages now.
Which longwindedly leads me back to Hard Rain. I became a Dylan fan in 2001. Fell in love with Hard Rain within that first nine months. Two years later, most of the major albums in his catalog started getting remastered (and the sound quality obsessing first began). Over the years, Hard Rain remained one of the only good Dylan albums that hadn't been upgraded from its original 1980s CD release. Therefore, I developed more of an emotional attachment to that mix than I could to any of the other "pre-remastered" albums. I became married to its sound. [Really curious how those of you who've been fans since the 1960s have felt with all the re-releases over the years, including with the CD age. We know how Neil Young feels.] Right now I'm still deciding whether to give the CD mix up, and I've been delaying doing a lot of A-B'ing. As technically inferior as it is, I'm wondering if the muddy CD release (with its layer of crap, poor instrument separation, rougher vocal, more "noise") is my Nirvana Reading audio CD or BIABH mono mix -- it might be rough and noisy and dirty enough to make the vinyl remaster sound a bit clean and (gasp) sterile in comparison, even with the vinyl rip being spotted some vinyl noise.
I'm probably just in a bit of denial here, and will likely snap out of this soon as I finish grieving the loss of that CD mix I've been listening to for over ten years. I know it's irrational. I was thinking about this earlier today, and the first few lines of "I Threw It All Away" on the vinyl remaster (played loud over the stereo) almost slapped me in the face. I also had some Pavlovian salivation when I read that Bennyboy's doing a new rip, so maybe that's a sign too. I'm still extremely grateful for this vinyl remaster, Bennyboy, and have been enjoying the torrid affair with it so far. But I just need to give myself a little more time, 'cause the original is the version I had first married.
A really great post.
I hear you, I really do - Hard Rain was the first Dylan album I ever bought, on cassette at age 15. Can you imagine how that arsetastic mix sounded on a crap Walkman played through the shittest earphones known to man?
Like manna from riff heaven, of course.
Music is one of the most mysterious things - it neurologically links us like a time machine to experience, to lived life and the memory of it. All you have to do is hear the first few notes of a cherished song and the neurons instantly fire and transport you back to that time and place when you first heard it, when you relistened to it, when you fell in love to it, when you danced to it, when you argued to it, when you cried to it, when you.....
So yeah, I get where you're coming from, totally. The magic of that ropey Hard Rain production transcends its limitations, absolutely. Thats the power of RTR Dylan - not even murk and mud can keep him down!
But the beautiful thing is you can keep that mix we've had for countless years now, and add this new one alongside it. You can make new memories, put new markers in the emotional territory to revisit. You can see the same landscape from a different vantage point, illuminated and resplendant.
Dylan threw it all away. You don't have to.